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Bock: Would an Emmitt Matthews Jr. Reunion with WVU Make Sense?



When former WVU F Emmitt Matthews Jr. entered the transfer portal on Monday, one comment I saw stood out to me.

“A friend of mine once said if you have been married three times maybe it’s you,” a commenter wrote.

That’s what the transfer portal has turned into. Players leave, think the grass is greener and some end up not liking where they went to. As the transfer portal era continues to progress, some players have returned to their original programs after leaving.

Last March, Matthews entered the portal leaving West Virginia for home in Washington. Now with him back in the portal once again, could we see Matthews return to WVU?

West Virginia’s coaching staff is left with just one scholarship for the 2022-23 season. Despite them hosting and showing interest in many players in the transfer portal, Matthews would make all the sense to return to Morgantown.

The Tacoma native averaged 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds during his one season at Washington. Matthews shot 43 percent from the field, 34 percent from three and 76 percent from the free-throw line. Matthews played at West Virginia from 2018-21, helping WVU earn a 3-seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

As Matthews has one year of eligibility left, a return to WVU would be the perfect story.

Over the last two years, the coaching staff has experimented how to recruit during the transfer portal era of college basketball. Last year, they went after veteran players from mid-major programs. This offseason, the team has acquired veteran players from Power-5 teams in Erik Stevenson (South Carolina) and Joe Toussaint (Iowa). As of April 27, West Virginia is 13th in the country in transfer portal additions, according to EvanMiya.

West Virginia has been able to take care of the guard position. Keddy Johnson, Kobe Johnson, Seth Wilson, Stevenson and Toussaint highlight the backcourt with experience and depth. WVU’s backcourt for next season could arguably be the deepest in the Big 12.

The frontcourt is another story. The team lost starters Jalen Bridges and Isaiah Cottrell to the portal while gaining JuCo big men Mohamed Wague and Jimmy Bell Jr. over the last couple of weeks. That’s a lot of turnover for a team that struggled to rebound the ball last season. WVU should use this last scholarship spot on a wing or a big man.

This team could use Matthews for next season. West Virginia is in need of a true forward and Matthews can step in for a year and give great production at the position. On paper, this looks like a team that could struggle to score. If you add Matthews, that’s another guy that can give you double figures in scoring. The Mountaineers didn’t have that explosive wing player last season. Add Matthews back and you can restore that energy.

Matthews knows how Huggins rolls. He knows the system, the culture. Matthews won’t be going blindly into this if he decides to return. Matthews is good friends with Stevenson so that also helps. On the other side of the ball, the coaching staff would know what to expect from Matthews and his play.

Where else would it make sense for Matthews to go? He hasn’t entered his name into the NBA draft to receive advice. Washington was home for Matthews, West Virginia is that other home for him.

With just one scholarship spot open it makes sense. If Matthews ends up returning to Morgantown, it would be a win for both parties.

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